The Lebanese news site Now Media has rounded up some reactions from online jihadis to Donald Trump’s victory, and it appears they’re feeling pretty good Wednesday.
Al-Qaida linked Jordanian cleric Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi tweeted Wednesday morning that “#Trump’s term may be the beginning of America’s fragmentation and the era of its breakup” and that “#Trump reveals the true mentality of the Americans, and their racism toward Muslims and Arabs and everything.”
A media official for Jabhat Fateh al-Sham (which recently formally broke ties with al-Qaida but is still considered a terrorist group by the United States) tweeted that “Trump’s victory is a powerful slap to those promoting the benefits of democratic mechanisms.”
Counterterrorism scholar Charles Lister argues Wednesday that Trump’s victory could benefit al-Qaida-linked groups in particular, since the network has been trying to rebrand itself as the protector of oppressed Sunnis against U.S.-backed local strongmen. Trump’s likely embrace of Syria’s Shia Alawite leader Bashar al-Assad can only help its cause.
There’s good reason to suspect that, despite Trump’s promises to “bomb the shit out of them,” ISIS is pretty happy about this news as well. An analysis of pro-ISIS online chatter by Mara Revkin and Ahmad Mhidi in Foreign Affairs in August found that its followers strongly preferred Trump, mostly because his “anti-Muslim rhetoric plays into ISIS’ narrative of a bipolar world in which the West is at war with Islam” and because of “hopes that Trump will radicalize Muslims in the United States and Europe and inspire them to commit lone-wolf attacks in their home countries.”
As one pro-ISIS post on the group’s favorite encrypted messaging app Telegram put it:
The “facilitation” of Trump’s arrival in the White House must be a priority for jihadists at any cost!!!
ISIS has been facing a pretty bleak outlook over the past few weeks, so this may be a rare bit of promising news for them.
Update, 3:00 p.m.: In a series of tweets, the New York Times' Rukmini Callimachi rounds up the celebratory reactions of ISIS supporters. For instance:
2. Another account is portraying the news on 11/9 following the American election, as the natural extension of 9/11: pic.twitter.com/4HhOYCz55r— Rukmini Callimachi (@rcallimachi) November 9, 2016